SISEP Active State

Intensive Support

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Colorado Department of Education

Mission: All students graduate ready for college and careers, and prepared to be productive citizens of Colorado.

Vision: Ensuring equity and opportunity for every student, every step of the way.

The Colorado Department of Education has been partnering with SISEP since August of 2017.

“Implementation science is the foundation of how we support districts and schools with the effective implementation of Colorado Multi-Tiered System of Supports (COMTSS). SISEP guidance, training, and resources have been an integral part of our success in that effort.”
Rebecca Knighton, Colorado Multi-tiered System of Support Specialist

Implementation Teams Cascade

Colorado - Team Structure

Executive Sponsors of SISEP Partnership:

  • Kristen Brown, Ph.D., Director of the Office of Learning Supports

State Transformation Specialist:

Adam Collins, Ph.D. Statewide Bullying Prevention Manager and COMTSS Specialist

Adam Collins, Ph.D. is the Statewide Bullying Prevention Manager and a COMTSS Specialist in the Office of Learning Supports. Dr. Collins most recently served as a K-5 school psychologist in the Adams 12 School District where he had first-hand experience in the development and practical application of MTSS, RtI, and school-wide bullying prevention. He received his doctorate degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in School Psychology with a focus on bullying prevention and intervention. Dr. Collins has co-authored several book chapters and presented on bullying prevention to various stakeholders including schools, companies, and organizations.

Rebecca Knighton, M.A. Colorado Multi-Tiered System of Supports Specialist

Rebecca Knighton, Ph.D. is a COMTSS Specialist for the Office of Learning Supports. She serves the North Central and Northeast regions of Colorado. Prior to working for the Colorado Department of Education, she was a general education Behavioral Interventionist, Gifted and Talented Specialist and integral member of a middle school’s MTSS and individual student problem solving teams. She has presented at conferences and led professional development at the school, district, state, national, and university levels in PBIS, MTSS, increasing staff buy-in, dropout prevention, school climate, and students’ social, emotional, and behavioral needs. She has a passion for helping school staff members build their capacity to help at-risk youth change the trajectory of their lives and is currently a Doctoral Candidate in Population Studies in Health with a focus on a systemic understanding of the factors that enable teachers to do so.

SISEP Implementation Specialist:

Caryn S. Ward Ph. D. Implementation Specialist

Associate Director of Education and Measurement for the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN) at Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Ward provides intensive and informed implementation supports to state and local education systems nationally through her work as the co-director of the State Implementation and Scaling-up of Evidence-based Practices Center, Center on School Turnaround, and National Center for Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning.

Implementation Drivers

Colorado's Approach

The implementation science work of Colorado is focused on improving the implementation efforts of Colorado Muli-Tiered System of Supports (COMTSS), Bullying prevention, School Climate, and Health and Wellness.

COMTSS is defined as:

Colorado Multi-Tiered System of Supports (COMTSS) is a prevention-based framework using team-driven leadership and data-based problem solving to improve the outcomes of every student through family, school, and community partnerships, comprehensive screening and assessment, and a layered continuum of supports applied at all educational levels. Implementation science and universal design for learning are employed to create one integrated system that focuses on increasing academic and behavioral outcomes to equitably support the varying needs of all students.

Mission: To support school and district systems development for the effective implementation of multi-tiered frameworks to improve academic and behavioral outcomes for all.

TA Structure

COMTSS Five Components

  • Team-Driven Shared Leadership: Teaming processes and structures that focus on distributing responsibility and shared decision-making across and within regions, districts, and schools to effectively design and use systems of training, coaching, resources, implementation, and evaluation.
  • Data-Based Problem-Solving and Decision-Making: A continuous improvement process used by teams to collect, analyze, and evaluate information to inform decision making at the system and student levels.
  • Layered Continuum of Supports; Evidence-based practices, instruction, and interventions: Ensuring that every student receives equitable whole child supports that are evidence based, culturally responsive, matched to need, and developmentally appropriate through layered supports.
  • Comprehensive Screening and Assessment System: A Comprehensive Screening and Assessment System is the coordinated effort of gathering information across multiple measures to support decision making at the system and student level for the whole child.
  • Family, School, and Community Partnerships: Families, early-childhood programs, schools, and communities actively partnering to develop, implement, and evaluate effective and equitable practices to improve educational outcomes for children and youth.

Usable Innovation

Colorado's Usable Innovation

At the regional, district, and school level, leadership teams build infrastructure that supports the implementation of the five components of COMTSS. To learn more about COMTSS, view the video and website below.

In order to support all regions, districts, and schools across Colorado, practice profiles for each of the five essential components were developed.

The COMTSS Practice Profiles were developed to specify exemplary strategies that region, district, and school implementation teams can use to support effective and sustainable use of the COMTSS framework as intended. The COMTSS Practice Profiles identify standards and expectations for what COMTSS looks like in practice and how it can be implemented with consistency. For example, the COMTSS Practice Profiles guide and inform the development and/or refinement of the necessary supports and resources for the COMTSS implementation, such as professional learning, coaching, identification of fidelity measures, a state-level evaluation plan, and necessary changes in procedures and policy.

Evidence-based Practice: Bullying Prevention

Bullying prevention is defined as any behavior intentionally designed to cause harm, that is repeated or likely to be repeated, and marked by an imbalance of power.

Evidence-based Practice: Positive School Climate

School Climate Transformation refers to the work funded by the U.S. Department of Education to support schools in implementing positive school climate strategies through Colorado's Multi-Tiered System of Supports Framework (COMTSS). School Climate exists across three interdependent domains: Interpersonal, Institutional, and Instructional. In general, a positive school climate is often achieved through proactive and prevention based strategies that are implemented schoolwide, as well as a recognition that all members of a school community must feel healthy, safe, engaged, challenged, and supported.

Evidence-based Practice: Social Emotional Health

School mental health professionals, including school social workers, positively impact the school environment by working with young students and their families to identify safety net insecurities, social and emotional skills deficits, instances of abuse and neglect, and mental health challenges. 

The grant program will enable parents, students, teachers, administrators, and school mental health professionals to create a safe, positive, and successful school learning environment. Please refer to the link to learn more about the K-5 mental health grant.

Stages of Implementation Exploration Installation Initial Implementation Full Implementation

Colorado's Journey

Stage of Implementation: Exploration

The project uses implementation science to create one system to provide academic and behavioral supports. The goals, objectives, and activities are driven by the theory of action and inputs, goals, outputs, outcomes, and impacts of the project. The outcome measures ensure fidelity of the project will be evaluated. The evaluation plan tracks effectiveness of strategies, relies on performance measures, provides performance feedback, and ensures assessment of progress will be used. The project measures district, region, and state capacity assessments. School and classroom fidelity implementation tools will support building leadership to ensure teachers’ instructional practices are being implemented with fidelity to achieve student outcomes. 

To view the COMTSS Online Academy training modules, follow the link below.

To celebrate the work of COMTSS, feel free to review the following testimonials video.

Colorado State Capacity Assessment

State Capacity Assessment

Plan Do Study Act Cycle

Colorado's Next Steps

The Colorado Department of Education plans to continue supporting the knowledge acquisition of implementation science to build the capacity of regions, districts, and schools to engage in systems change efforts.